Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder which affects the sleeping and waking cycles of the brain. It is estimated that only 25% of people who have narcolepsy have been diagnosed and are receiving treatment.1 With approximately 3 million people suffering from this condition worldwide its never been more important to know the early warning signs. To view what signs to look out for try an online search.
So What Exactly Is Narcolepsy?
Originating as a neurological disorder narcolepsy stops the brain from being able to control and regulate normal sleeping and waking cycles. This can have dramatic effects on the overall wellbeing and health of a patient as sleep is vital to restoring health. Narcolepsy patients have been known to fall asleep at inappropriate times sometimes whilst in a conversation, eating food or even driving a vehicle. As you can probably understand it can be extremely dangerous when not diagnosed and there is treatment available.
Who Is Most At Risk?
Narcolepsy is a condition that affects both genders equally which is suggested from current patient numbers.2 Beginning from childhood or adolescence those with Narcolepsy can be diagnosed but before now there was not enough research on this disorder. Now with a modern understanding its become easier to detect but many Americans are living their lives unaware of having this condition. Many people are actually misdiagnosed with other psychiatric disorders or emotional problems which can lead to taking incorrect medications causing further illness.
What Symptoms Should I Look Out For?
There are a few common symptoms to look out for if you believe you or a loved one are suffering from Narcolepsy. The most common symptoms include:
Cataplexy – Cataplexy is the sudden loss of muscle tone and voluntary muscle control which is severely affected from lack of sleep. This can be triggered by sudden strong emotions like laughter, anger, stress or even fearful situations. The body undergoing a rapid change in emotional state without proper restful sleep can cause the brain to misfire connections. This affects the central nervous system and therefore muscle control.
Sleep Paralysis – This condition is a really strange feeling when you’re in this state. Its a temporary inability to move or speak when asleep or falling asleep or even waking up which can last seconds or minutes depending on the severity.
Hallucinations – From the lack of sleep the brain can begin to cause hallucinations in patients suffering from Narcolepsy. Most often the hallucinations are visual but sometimes other senses can be involved too.
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS) – This condition is common to all patients of Narcolepsy and is the most obvious symptom. This feeling is the persistent sleepiness which can’t ever seem to be shaken off.
What Are The Different Types Of Narcolepsy?
Type 1 Narcolepsy – This type is a diagnosis based on the individual having a lower brain hormone count for hypocretin.
Type 2 Narcolepsy – People who have this condition experience excessive daytime sleepiness but don’t encounter the cataplexy symptom of muscle fatigue and no connection.
How Is Narcolepsy Diagnosed?
To understand and diagnose an individual of having Narcolepsy there are a few tests which can be ran by medical professionals. Individuals at first approach their general practitioner doctor who may ask them to keep a sleep journal. This journal is normally kept for 1 to 2 weeks and helps to identify if there is anything else causing sleep issues. If the symptoms persist than the doctor can recommend the following:
Polysomnogram (PSG or sleep study) – This study is an overnight recording of brain activity. An individual will sleep in hospital overnight with some connection points to the scalp to help monitor the brains activity during sleep.
Multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) – This test assesses daytime sleepiness by measuring how fast you can fall asleep. The speed in which REM can be entered by an individual can help to identify if Narcolepsy is being suffered or not.
Are There Treatments Available?
There are many different sleeping pills and medications available to those who suffer from Narcolepsy if thats the route they’d like to take. Some medications may have side effects so its important to consult with your doctor first. Some medications like Modafinil help to keep an individual alert and awake during the day and is less addictive than other medication types.
Tips For Better Sleep For Narcolepsy Patients
- Take Short Naps – If you’re feeling drowsy in the day a short nap may help to reset the brain and body into a restful state.
- Avoid Caffeine – Especially before bed, but we suggest cutting out caffeine by 1pm to help create a better environment for sleeping in.
- Avoid Smoking – Smoking at night can stimulate the body allowing it not to enter a restful environment.
- Avoid Late Meals – Eating too late and eating big meals before bed can offset the bodies natural secretion of relaxing hormones. These play a vital role in restoring the bodies wellbeing and are paramount to good health.
Contact A Local Specialist For Testing
If you’re experiencing any of the early warning signs then a medical professional test is your best defense against Narcolepsy. Restful sleep is vital to having a healthy and happy mindset during life and the relationships around us. Professionals are available across the entire nation and ready to book in your early symptom tests today.